Alabama Education Director Ousted Over Book’s Stance on Race
Kim Chandler, Associated Press, April 21, 2023
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday announced she replaced her director of early childhood education over the use of a teacher training book, written by a nationally recognized education group, that the Republican governor denounced as teaching “woke concepts” because of language about inclusion and structural racism.
Barbara Cooper was forced out as as head of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education after Ivey expressed concern over the distribution of the book to state-run pre-kindergartens. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola identified the book as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th edition. Maiola said she understands that the books have been removed from the state classrooms.
The governor’s office, in a press release, cited two examples from the book — one discussing white privilege and that “the United States is built on systemic and structural racism” and another that Ivey’s office claimed teaches LGBTQ+ inclusion to 4-year-olds. Those sections, according to a copy of the 881-page book obtained by The Associated Press, discuss combating bias and making sure that all children feel welcome.
The section on structural racism states that “systemic and structural racism … has permeated every institution and system through policies and practices that position people of color in oppressive, repressive, and menial positions. The early education system is not immune to these forces.” It says preschool is one place where children “begin to see how they are represented in society” and that the classroom should be a place of “affirmation and healing.”